Recording Vocals Over a Backing Track Part 1

Tips for adding vocals to a pre-recorded stereo backing track:

Are pre-recorded, fully pre-mixed karaoke type backing tracks ever useful? If so, what sorts of projects would one use them for?

Obviously, if you are doing totally original songs or original versions of songs, you are going to want to create your own unique instrumentation – either by playing them yourself, using individual drum or instrument loops or with your band or collaborators.

But, there are cases where a good, pre-made, complete stereo backing track can be very useful and save a lot of time.

Ella GlasgowA great example of the effective use of pre-recorded instrumentation as a bed track for a home recorded vocal,  is Home Recording Blueprint Featured Artist, Ella Glasgow. You can see and listen to her Blueprint Featured Artist Page here:

Ella is a vocalist and active performer/entertainer and a new Blueprint member. Initially, because she performs a lot of cover material in her shows and needs to have quality audition recordings that highlight her vocal abilities, she is using the Home Recording Blueprint to be able to make quality vocal recordings at home.

So, this is a case where a good pre-recorded stereo backing track is a very handy time saver. It allows a working performer and/or someone needing to present and feature their vocals as an audition for a potential gig or project, to simply concentrate on getting their vocal recorded without the time involved in mixing a ton of separate instrument tracks.

But is it possible to get a natural sounding, finished product when “attaching” a vocal or part to an already mixed backing track?

You can absolutely get a good blend with your vocals and a pre-recorded track, but there are a few tips to be aware of to make sure the added vocal blends, and seems to be a natural part of, the pre-recorded and mixed stereo backing track.

We’ll have a look and listen later in this post, to Ella’s excellent vocal recording where she added her vocal to an already existing stereo backing track. I think you will agree that she has used her Home Recording Blueprint’s EQ advice to get a great result making her vocal recording seem like it is part of the same recording session where the instrumentation was recorded.

Of course, she has recorded an excellent performance which, when it comes down to it, is the most important thing and makes all recording projects go much smoother.

So, because a pre-recorded backing track by definition was recorded elsewhere, our goal is to make the vocal sound as if it is part of that same “session” and not sound “tacked on.” This is achieved mostly by “feel” and practice – of great help here is to review the sections in the Home Recording Blueprint about EQ and make the roles of the various EQ frequencies second nature. Nothing beats “knowing what you are hearing” when it comes to recording and mixing. Continue reading

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